SC turns down Elenita Binay’s bid to dismiss graft case
MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed the Office of the Ombudsman resolution indicting former Makati City Mayor Elenita Binay for graft and malversation of public funds in connection with the alleged oversupply of hospital beds at the Ospital ng Makati (OsMak) in 2001.
In a 16-page decision written by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, the high court’s Third Division dismissed Binay’s petition that seeks to nullify the Ombudsman’s consolidated resolution dated August 29, 2013, ordering her inclusion in the graft complaint filed against 15 other local government officials.
Initially, Binay was cleared by the Office of the Overall Deputy Ombudsman stating there is no probable cause to indict her for graft.
However, then Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales reversed the ruling after Binay’s co-accused sought a reconsideration insisting that they could not be held liable because they are not the funds’ custodian.
The other accused said Binay is not only the custodian but the approving authority of the disbursement of funds.
The former mayor then took her case to SC asking that it stop the Office of the Special Prosecutor and Sandiganbayan from continuing with the trial or any other proceeding in the criminal cases against her.
She argued that since neither complainants Commission on Audit nor Roberto Brillante moved for reconsideration of the May 9, 2011 resolution, it turned final and executory and, thus, could not be reviewed or reversed by public respondent Office of the Ombudsman.
She also claimed that her right to due process was violated when she was not served with copies of her co-accused’s motions for reconsideration.
Binay also argued that she was not informed of the allegations contained in these pleadings, which effectively deprived her of her right to be notified and heard.
In dismissing her petition, the high court said there was no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Ombudsman when it determined the existence of probable cause against Binay.
“This Court will not interfere with the Office of the Ombudsman’s determination of probable cause except when it acted with grave abuse of discretion,” the Court ruled.
The Court added that Binay’s failure to receive a copy of the motions for reconsideration filed by her co-accused does not result in a violation of her right to due process.
“Petitioner does not deny that she moved for reconsideration of the assailed August 29, 2013, Consolidated Resolution. She was given the opportunity to question the decision against her. She was not denied due process,” SC pointed out.
The Court also did not give merit to Binay’s claim that her right to speedy disposition of cases was violated as the Ombudsman have sufficiently explained the resolution of the complaints.
Sought for comment, the camp of Dra. Binay said it will file a motion for reconsideration before the high court.
“What we questioned before the SC is the revival of the charge against Dea. Elenita Binay in relation to the Ospital ng Makati. Imagine, the complaint against Dra. Binay was earlier dismissed by Ombudsmen then, on MR filed by other respondents who were charged in court, was reinstated against her,” Atty. Sandra Coronel said.
“It is our intention to file a Motion for Reconsideration and our basis is finality of judgement. Meantime, the case has been on going in the Sandiganbayan,” she added.
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